2020 Honda City Test Drive Review
We do an in-depth review of the all new 2020 Honda City.
Car Tested: 2020 Honda City; Road Test No. 1193; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: 13.03 – 17.44 Lakhs
The latest generation of India’s most popular sedan is all about new features, more comfort and better quality in a stylish package
What I have with me is possibly the most important car of 2020 for India, the 5th generation Honda City. The Honda City first entered India more than 20 years back and this car has carved out a good brand value for itself with more than 8 lakh cars sold. The City now enters its 5th generation with a lot of major and important changes.
MotorQuest: The Honda City has always been a very aspirational car for Indian buyers. Ever since the first generation was launched, it has retained its immense popularity over the years. The City is synonymous with the brand image of being a car that appeals to both youngsters and elders.
Exteriors – The 2020 Honda City has grown in size compared to its predecessor. It is now 109 mm longer, 53 mm wider and 6 mm shorter in height. However, the wheelbase remains the same at 2600 mm. The City is based on a developed version of the older car’s platform but the new car is lighter by 4 kgs. The styling is indeed very good and from certain angles, the new City does resemble the Civic. The design is sporty and thankfully the City comes with 16-inch wheels on all variants. You get LED headlamps, LED DRLs, LED tail lamps and even LED turn indicators. The face of the car gets a generous dose of chrome and it looks tasteful. While the 4th gen City looked like an evolution of the 3rd gen car in design, the 5th gen City looks completely different.
Interiors – Step inside and a completely new cabin welcomes you. The dashboard sees a design change and it looks very functional now. The ergonomics are sorted and controls fall within easy reach of the hand. Honda has added a new steering, new instrument cluster, new infotainment system and even new ORVMs that are positioned slightly behind the A-pillar to reduce the blind spot. The dashboard still gets hard plastics but the quality does seem better than the outgoing City. You get a dual-tone theme with the upper part finished in black and the lower part in beige. There is a wooden inlay running across the centre of the dashboard and there’s a small chunk where Honda has used soft-touch materials. The AC vents get metallic surrounds.
The cabin has a feel-good vibe to it and the overall quality and fit-finish is better than the outgoing model
The new steering looks cool and feels great to hold, meanwhile the instrument cluster packs in some features like a G-Force meter in which the ball in the centre keeps moving depending on how you drive. The speedometer and tachometer are well laid out, large and clear to read and in-between you get a 7-inch TFT LCD which shows data like DTE, digital speed, fuel efficiency, trip meters, odometer, and gear position indicator. There is also an ECON indicator and the ambient lighting on the panel now switches between white and green, unlike the older car where it switched between blue and green.
The City now gets an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with connectivity options like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth and USB. The screen is fluid and feels better than the Digipad offered on the older car but the UI could’ve have been a bit more polished. The sound quality from the speakers is also decent. You also get a multi-angle rearview camera and a LaneWatch camera which basically use a camera mounted on the left ORVM to show you the side-rear view on the screen.
The rear seat comes with 3 headrests but none of them are adjustable; meanwhile both the front and rear armrests are very useful
The Honda City now gets connected car features with Honda Connect and you get 32 features like crash notification, location tracking, speed alerts, service scheduler, roadside assistance, fuel alert, battery alert, tyre pressure alert, etc. The car also gets Alexa connectivity and users can give voice commands and switch on the AC and lights remotely, know the fuel status, engine health, car location, etc. You can also remotely open the boot with Alexa.
Other features on the City include auto headlamps, sunroof, auto-dimming IRVM, auto up-down for all 4 power windows, paddle-shifters, ambient lighting, keyless-go, and a rear sunshade. There are enough bottle-holders and storage spaces in the cabin while the boot capacity is 506-litres which is 4-litres lesser than the older City. The seats are really well-shaped and offer good support and bolstering. The rear seat also offers very good comfort, and now it gets a centre headrest for the middle passenger too. Knee room and headroom both are pretty good and 3 people should be able to sit comfortably. The AC now gets conventional control buttons and the cooling performance is excellent both at the front and rear.
Performance – The Honda City continues to be offered with two engines. The petrol engine is a 1.5-litre i-VTEC DOHC unit from the EarthDreams family. The power has increased very slightly to 121 PS and the torque remains similar at 145 Nm. This engine uses Variable Valve Timing Control in addition to VTEC. The engine is good on refinement and is very silent too. It does get audible as the revs increase but it sounds quite nice.
Driveability offered by the petrol engine is fantastic. The low-end feels more responsive now. The mid-range has strong punch and the engine is quite rev-happy just like before. There is enough grunt at the top-end and peak power delivery comes in at 6600 RPM. 100 km/hr comes up in 2nd gear while in the 0-100 km/hr sprint, the MT is quicker than the CVT. The petrol engine thankfully gets a 6-speed manual gearbox now. Shifts are light and smooth while the clutch is also very light. The gear ratios for the first 5 gears are the same as the outgoing model.
The City has good driveability and both the engines have different USPs
The 7-step CVT has been retained but it has been tuned to reduce the rubberband effect. When you go hard on the throttle on the CVT, it does get noisy because the engine revs higher and it even sips more fuel but drive it smoothly and it’ll reward you with a smoother drive and better efficiency. You can expect 10-13 km/l from the petrol MT under actual driving conditions.
The diesel engine is the same 1.5-litre unit that we saw on the older City and it is offered on the Amaze as well. It produces 100 PS and 200 Nm which is quite lesser than its closest rival, the Hyundai Verna. It is BS6 compliant and comes with a DPF now. The engine was known for its average refinement and noisy nature but it is a bit more refined now. Vibrations and noise feel well under control now. This diesel engine has minimal turbo lag and power delivery in the low-end and mid-range is quite good. The engine lacks performance at higher RPMs but the City diesel offers excellent driveability in the city! The diesel engine is matched to a 6-speed manual gearbox only and there’s no automatic option sadly. The diesel engine delivers anywhere between 16-20 km/l.
Driving Dynamics – Honda has worked on the suspension of the car which feels softer now. The ride at low speeds, especially on broken roads isn’t jarring anymore and it is actually more comfortable. Passengers will have a good experience travelling in this car because most undulations do not filter inside the cabin that bad. However, if you take corners at high speeds you do feel a slight amount of body roll.
The steering is also sorted for most part and offers good feedback. At centre position, it has some amount of play but otherwise at highway speeds it is quite precise. The City feels confident and well-composed out on the open roads. The older car used to feel very light and a bit less confidence-inspiring at high speeds but the new one is well-improved on this front. The sedan continues with a front disc and rear drum brake setup but I could feel a slight difference in the bite which has become sharper. NVH levels have also gotten better and the City filters out a lot of outside noises and the cabin really cocoons the passengers.
Safety and After Sales Service – In terms of safety features, the 2020 Honda City is equipped with 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, ISOFIX child seat mounts, Vehicle Stability Assist, Agile Handling Assist, Hill Start Assist and TPMS. Just like the 4th gen City, the new model has also scored a 5-star rating in the ASEAN NCAP crash test. Honda’s service is wide-spread throughout India and generally, customers have had good experiences with the service quality and the reliability of the City.
Verdict – It goes without saying that the new City is a huge improvement over the older car. It feels better built, has so many features and comes with an updated petrol engine which offers oodles of fun. Sadly, we don’t get the 1.0-litre turbo engine that is offered in international variants and the City’s rivals like the Hyundai Verna and Skoda Rapid also get one and we also don’t get a diesel automatic. Nonetheless, the 2020 Honda City is a car which has barely any flaws and comes across as a well-rounded package with better quality too. The fight in the C-segment will become all the more interesting now!
What’s Not So Cool
Alternatives: – Hyundai Verna, Maruti Ciaz, Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Vento, Skoda Rapid
Testers’ Notes –
“Honda has given the new City a lot of premium touches including the exterior styling and added features. However, the dashboard design comes across as a bit conservative when compared to its predecessor, same is the case with the instrument cluster which although more advanced than before, is a bit plain in design. The new petrol engine retains the Honda magic while the diesel is more refined but still not better than its sole rival in the segment, neither in performance, nor in NVH. Overall, the new City is a step in the right direction.” – Faisal Khan, Editor In Chief, MotorBeam.
“I drive a 4th generation Honda City petrol and the changes that have been done on this car are quite evident. The car has better NVH, better quality materials on the inside and the ride is also a bit more comfortable. The car feels nicely built and packs in some useful features too. I particularly like the new AC controls which are easier to use while driving. The petrol engine doesn’t fail to impress and the petrol MT would be my choice out of all of the variants. The diesel engine is the same unit but is more refined now. Honda has upped the game with the new City.” – Parth Gohil, Associate Editor, MotorBeam.
Further Reading –